|Celebrating my youngest brothers' first birthday|
I'm going to stake out an unpopular position here, but things have gotten out of hand and it's time for someone to take a stand.
Today at work, I was called to a meeting in the conference room, and as I sat there, my colleagues came in bearing a giant cake topped with swirls of whipped cream, singing "Happy Birthday" to me.
Please just make it stop! I beg you!
In my office, birthdays are important. We post a monthly birthday list on the bulletin board. We surreptitiously circulate birthday cards for signatures - discretely hidden inside manila folders labeled "Confidential" - as if we didn't all recognize the folder when it goes around. People get together and whisper conspiratorially about who will get the cake and what kind of cake it will be. A collection is taken up.
And then, inevitably, the birthday person is called to an "important meeting" in the conference room, and - SURPRISE!
Honestly, I appreciate the thought. Really. It's just that I can't keep eating huge slabs of buttercream-iced cakes or giant triangles of meringue topped pie two or three times a month in the middle of the workday.
The week before Thanksgiving, four Marie Callendar pies - apple, chocolate, banana cream and cherry - were brought in to celebrate the boss's birthday. I was hoping it was a co-celebration, for both of us, since our birthdays are only a few days apart. But no, today it was a lemon-raspberry cheesecake, just for me.
In recent years, the retirement of two long-time employees, and the inter-departmental transfer of another employee gave me hope that our long-established birthday custom would soon become obsolete. New hires wouldn't have the same expectations as the old guard.
Yes, we managed to squelch the gift-giving - this had become a pointed display of co-worker popularity. We halted the escalation in party decor - paper printed tablecloths and matching plastic flatware and even fold-out tissuepaper tablescapes. The theatrically elaborate surprise ruses were no longer so complex. But the first birthday after the retirees were gone, the whispers began "What kind of dessert does X like?"
So we are still bringing custom-iced, boxed sugary buttercream treats to work, and stuffing ourselves with fats and sugars.
Hello, people! I don't want chocolate buttercream at 2:00 in the afternoon when I really would rather be finishing up that email I'm writing to Risk Management about a client's insurance certificate - and doesn't that tell you how serious I am about this? I don't like Carrow's apple pies, with crust that tastes like cardboard and filling that comes from a can. Half of us are on a diet, anyway!
Frankly, it feels crappy to lie and say how pleased I am. It feels crappy to say, "only a sliver for me" - meaning I don't want any. It feels even more crappy to eat more than I want, just to make you feel I'm grateful. It feels crappy to feign enthusiasm about taking home a box of supermarket cake to "share with my family" and then throw it in the trash.
I don't want a birthday cake at work! And I think there are other people who feel the same.
But maybe I'm being churlish here. What's your take? What do you do at work to celebrate co-workers' birthdays? How do other people feel about it? Any suggestions how to change it?